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Insights & Exchange: Safeguarding Public Health in a Changing Climate

Insights & Exchange: Safeguarding Public Health in a Changing Climate

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Local governments play a crucial role in addressing the intersection of climate change and public health within their communities. As frontline responders, they are tasked with implementing policies and initiatives to mitigate climate-related health risks and build local resilience to various hazards and challenges. Join us for a discussion with Spokane WA, Avon CO, and the Atlantic Council to learn how local governments tackle wildfire-caused air pollution, extreme heat, and the climate-health nexus. 

Our speakers include: 

  • Sarah Nuss, Director of Emergency Management, City of Spokane  
  • Charlotte Lin, Sustainability Coordinator, Town of Avon
  • Owen Gow, Deputy Director, Extreme Heat Initiative, Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Atlantic Council) 

Join us on Wednesday, June 5, 3:00-4:30 PM ET. Register here.

ICLEI members and local and regional governments are welcome to attend. 

Climate change poses a number of “sticky” public health challenges for local governments.

Wildfire Smoke: Local governments are increasingly tasked with keeping their residents safe from wildfire smoke. This is a hugely challenging task; wildfire smoke is particularly difficult to adapt to because it often strikes without warning and rapidly travels long distances from the source. Local governments learned this first-hand during the 2023 Canadian wildfires. Residents are often unaware that they are being exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution and–for those who are aware–protections are few and far between. Sarah Nuss, Director of Emergency Management with the City of Spokane, will speak about the City’s work on meeting the challenge of wildfire smoke through “smoke-readiness” programming. 

Frameworks and Mental Health: Across US local governments, climate and sustainability staff are aware of the urgent need to address the impacts of climate change on public health. Yet many struggle to get public health on the sustainability agenda and build the institutional momentum and cross-sector partnerships needed for impactful projects. At the same time, staff often face their own challenges with climate grief and burnout. Charlotte Lin, Sustainability Coordinator with the Town of Avon, will speak about the CDC’s Toolkit for Communicating the Health Effects of Climate Change, successful examples of local government action at the climate-health nexus, and her own work on climate mental health as a member of the Executive Committee of the Climate Psychology Alliance North America.  

Heat Action Platform: Extreme heat is the deadliest climate-related hazard in the US. With climate change projected to sharply increase extreme heat events, heat’s already high public health and economic costs are sure to rise. Recognizing the growing danger of extreme heat, local governments are increasingly adopting Heat Action Plans. Heat Action Plans lay the groundwork for effective adaptation to extreme heat but can be challenging and resource-intensive to put together. To meet this need, the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center created the Heat Action Platform. Local governments can use the Platform’s engage-oriented modules to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate heat resilience projects. Owen Gow, Deputy Director at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, will speak about using the Heat Action Platform as a heat resilience planning tool for local governments.

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Date And Time

2024-06-05 @ 03:00 PM


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